By Joe Johnson
An Athens woman this week was indicted for the shooting death of a pregnant woman and the victim’s unborn child three months ago at an eastside apartment complex.
The victim, 24-year-old Auriel Briana “Thumpa” Callaway was with her 3-year-old son, Mason, outside their home at the Clarke Gardens apartment complex the night of July 22 when, Athens-Clarke County police said, gunshots rang out from a fight nearby in the complex and Callaway was killed by a bullet as she tried to rush her son to safety.
Callaway was four months pregnant with a child who also died, police said.
The alleged shooter, 26-year-old Kiresa Shanice Cooper, also of Clarke Gardens, was charged by a grand jury with malice and felony murder, feticide, four counts of aggravated assault, and six counts of possession of a firearm while in the commission of a felony, according to the indictment that was filed Tuesday in Clarke County Superior Court.
Two of the aggravated assault charges were from Cooper allegedly firing her gun in the direction of two other females, according to the indictment.
The death of well-liked Callaway galvanized members of Athens’ black community into taking action to reduce gun violence through such initiatives as youth mentoring, conflict resolution and a gun buy-back program.
Several young members of Athens’ black community die each year from gun violence, but Callaway’s death touched a raw nerve that set into action the grassroots anti-violence movement.
“Auriel's death was I guess the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for our community.” said her cousin, Vanessa Gary-Johnson.